Are you currently looking for a newly qualified (NQ) position but struggling to find a role that matches to your needs and skillset? We spoke to three qualified legal professionals to find out how they secured their NQ roles, why they chose their current firm, and get their views on what to look for in a legal recruiter. Securing an NQ position can often be a challenging and lengthy process for legal professionals. It can often be difficult to find the right firm, choose a recruiter that will listen and find the perfect role. I speak with candidates that are going through the process every day, and each has their own story to tell. I recently sat down with three legal professionals to find out how they secured their NQ positions and to find out how their experience was dealing with Sellick Partnership throughout the process. What were the first steps you took when beginning your search for an NQ position? Shehnaz Rahman Commercial Property Solicitor at Boyes Turner LLP said: The first and most important aspect of securing an NQ position in my opinion is getting your CV up to scratch, so I attended several CV clinics and spent time getting this ready for applying to roles. I then changed my LinkedIn status to let recruiters know I was open to vacancies and started looking for a recruiter that could help with my search. Rosie Deller, Family Solicitor at Rayden Solicitors said: Firstly, I spoke with a previous trainee from my old firm about the NQ process and how to structure CVs. Getting advice from someone that has been through the process is very helpful. After this I redrafted my CV in-line with a precedent received from an NQ information evening. Once I knew my CV was good enough I started having initial conversations with a couple of recruiters – ones that specialised in the areas I wanted work. Laura Jeal, Chartered Legal Executive at Doyle Clayton Solicitors said: I started by updating my CV, to ensure it reflected the diverse range of skills I had gained as a trainee. I had a vague awareness of other firms in the local area but used the Legal 500 to give myself a general idea of the types of firms I wanted to aim for. I also kept an eye on the legal job sites for NQ vacancies and followed up with any recruiters who contacted me about NQ roles. How did you decide what area of law to qualify into? How soon did you know? Shehnaz said: Before I started my training contract I had an interest in property law but wasn’t sure whether to specialise in commercial or residential. During my training contract I had experience in both and enjoyed commercial property the most. That is why it is important to try and gain as much exposure as possible while training as it will really help make your final decision. Rosie said: During my training contract there were two main practice areas – property and family. Personally, I found property incredibly dry and boring, but family law very interesting. I spoke with a couple of family solicitors that I knew about the profession and what it is like once qualified and it only reconfirmed my decision that family law was the right area for me. Laura said: I’ve wanted to work in employment law ever since I started studying. I worked in a call centre before I began my studies and every email from HR had me questioning whether what they were doing was above board (I now know it was, for the record). Since working in an employment law environment, it has underlined its appeal to me, as it has the perfect mix between contentious and non-contentious work. If you could go back in time, what do you now know that you wish you had known at the start of the process? Shehnaz said: When I first started looking for an NQ role I instructed three recruitment agencies, which was completely unnecessary. I think the best approach is to have initial chats with various recruiters to get an understanding of what they have to offer and whether there is a connection between you and the recruiter, if you like them, then instruct them. I found some recruiters pushy and tried to pressure me to interview with firms which were (a) not in my desired specialism (b) not in my desired location. My advice would be to find a recruiter that has your best interests in mind and stick with them. I also started my search in my final seat, however I would suggest starting your search earlier. Rosie said: Do not panic. The market for NQ solicitors was stagnant when I first started looking, and everyone’s situation is very different, so don’t get down about it. For example, my friend had found a suitable role about six months before he was due to qualify, which was very lucky. I decided early on that I did not want to stay at the firm I was training at and the lack of opportunities when I first started looking did not fill me with much hope that I would be able to move roles. Also, do not accept too many approaches from recruiters on LinkedIn. At the start I accepted any recruiter that wanted to connect with me. Rather than simply just accept, I should have researched into them and the company to determine whether they would be the right fit to assist me. I probably wasted more time having initial conversations with other recruiters who were not right to assist me. Laura said: Be patient with your search! Firms aren’t always hiring, and your dream firm may be just around the corner if you’re willing to wait. What attracted you to the firm you are working at? Shehnaz said: Boyes Turner has an extremely strong reputation in Reading and a lot of people from my training firm had moved there, so it was clearly doing something right! It also has an impressive line-up of developer clients. Having now worked here for almost a year, I can certainly say it was the best move/decision I made. It is extremely friendly, transparent and everyone is very supportive. The Partners here are keen to support and develop your knowledge and train you up. Rosie said: Rayden Solicitors is a highly respected and well-ranked law firm. I spoke with several family solicitors in London and they had all mentioned how great Rayden Solicitors was and that I would be happy and be able to progress with them. I had two offers from two firms on the table and decided to take Rayden’s which was a slightly lower salary due to the reputation and career progression that they could offer. Laura said: There were several factors. Firstly, my previous boss and trainee supervisor both came from Doyle Clayton. I respected both as incredible lawyers and knew that was in part because of the training and support they had received at my firm. In addition, Doyle Clayton are ranked as a tier one firm for employment law for the region, which to me means their advice is valued, and they have a diverse range of clients. When I interviewed there, I felt immediately at home and knew it was where I wanted to work. Why did you decide to choose Sellick Partnership to assist you with the search? Shehnaz said: Faith was the first person to contact me on LinkedIn, before I even started looking for NQ positions. Many recruiters sent generic messages to me, however Faith clearly did her research and her initial message was personal to my experience and location. Faith is extremely diligent and hardworking. In comparison to other recruiters out there, she is one of the best recruiters I have come across. Interview prep and understanding the firm you will interview for, are some of the main concerns NQs have. Faith provided extensive guidance on these, so you feel confident when going into the interview. The NQ recruitment market is highly competitive, so you need a recruiter who is proactive and persevering, and Faith can certainly deliver that. Rosie said: After having an initial chat with you, you completely understood my position and the type of role that I wanted. Other recruiters that I spoke with didn’t really listen to the practice area of law and location that I wanted and continued to press me to consider other roles that weren’t suitable. The market after I first spoke to you was stagnant and there was not a lot of vacancies. Rather than send these to me to try and make me consider them in order to place me as quickly as possible, you waited for the right opportunities. Laura said: Faith and I were already connected, and she posted on LinkedIn to say she was keen to speak to NQs in all areas. I arranged a phone call with Faith and we discussed what I was looking for. I knew from the first call that this would be a useful relationship to have. Faith wasn’t just putting me forward for any old vacancy – she considered the type of firms I was looking at, and was able to talk knowledgeably about each firm, their ethos and way of working. I never received anything less than a personal service. No other recruiter could compare. Next steps If you are about to finish your training contract and are looking for an NQ position they get in touch, Faith would be delighted to work with you to find your perfect role, or for further advice you can check out Faith’s blog here. Alternatively, you can check out our latest live legal jobs here.
Everyone experiences some form of stress in their lives. Be that stress at home or work, we all struggle from time-to-time. But stress isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, stress can be a benefit just as much as it can be a hinder – if you know how to manage it and use it to your advantage. Our Internal Talent & Wellbeing Manager Simon Briffa looks at what you can do to help manage stress and remain healthy and motivated.. When thinking about the benefits of stress it is important to view it as anything that alters our homeostasis (the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems). Good stress therefore is vital for a healthy life, but bad stress can have a hugely detrimental impact on our wellbeing and ability to remain motivated and productive. In order to counteract the negative consequences of stress we need to be able to recognise it, manage it and change our surroundings to help deal with it. I wanted to draw upon author Stephen Covey’s four dimensions of Human Needs and offer some tips on what you can do to help your own wellbeing. Stephen Covey’s four dimensions of Human Needs Steven Covey states that we need four things to “maintain and improve the implement that is you”, and in turn stay motivated and productive. He breaks these down into four dimensions: physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional. Although not directly related to stress management, I do believe that we can greatly reduce stress in our day-to-day lives by working on these four dimensions. At Sellick Partnership, we truly believe this and spent time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic focusing on one of these areas each Wednesday in our ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ initiative. Here are some of the things we started doing to help our staff manage their own stress, and raise awareness of keeping healthy, physically and mentally at work and at home. Physical/Body – keeping fit, eat well avoid bad things This one is simple. If we look after our physical selves, our mental health will be in much better shape. It is therefore important to keep active and eat healthily. Even getting out for a small walk or getting some fresh air greatly helps to reduce stress. That is why we always actively encourage all our employees to take their full lunch each day. We also gave everyone one extended lunch per week and held regular incentives designed around getting people out and about. Getting away from the desk and switching off for a period of time each day is hugely important and will help keep your mind fresh and ensure you stay motivated. Mind – nourish your brain Engaging your mind and doing something that helps you use all parts of your brain is hugely important in reducing stress. If you are constantly working, remain on the go and only using your brain for work then you will burn out very quickly. Using your mind for other activities will help you relax and destress. Taking yourself away and doing something you enjoy is important here. You might want to read a good book, listen to your favourite podcast or music or simply catch up on your favourite TV show. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you. Heart/Social/emotional – surround yourself by good people, take good advice, be kind listen to others Human contact and interaction is one of the best ways for us to de-stress. I am sure a lot of you will use socialising with friends at the weekend as a way to relax after a hectic week. This has recently become more difficult, but not impossible! If you usually go out on a Friday night, why not set up a video conference instead. Apps like House Party and Zoom make socialising virtually easier than ever. We see the benefit of this and are ensuring our teams are in regular contact throughout the day. We have set up a companywide WhatsApp Group, have given everyone access to video conferencing software and are holding regular companywide incentives to keep morale up. This is hugely important for us. We are one big family at Sellick Partnership, and not staying in touch would greatly impact our culture. Staying in touch helps us ensure our staff’s mental and physical wellbeing are catered for, and in turn reduces stress, and increases morale and productivity across the business. Giving back is also a great way of reducing stress. Getting involved with volunteering, supporting charities and general CSR initiatives are proven to lift moods, so get involved and help others where possible. This again, is something that is really important to Sellick Partnership and we encourage all of our staff to get involved where they can. Spiritual – who you are, your values and behaviours Looking after your mental wellbeing, and reducing stress relies on you being happy with who you are. Not everyone relates to spirituality, but everyone can take a few minutes just to be with themselves and relax, and that is what this is all about. To reduce stress in your day-to-day it is important to get in touch with your personal values and your mission which will be unique to you – so do this in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. Meditation, yoga and prayer are all great ways of doing this. You might also feel like taking yourself into a room to read a book or listen to music. Do whatever helps you to relax and get in touch with yourself, and spend some time de-stressing away from everything else that is going on. Doing something you enjoy away from your home workspace will help you de-stress and will be beneficial to your overall wellbeing. You might also want to read motivational books or listen to podcasts that will help you stay motivated. That is what we have done. We asked our Board of Directors to give us one thing they have read or listened to that has helped them recently and we have given our staff access to these materials. Some of these things can even be done while working. Having something inspirational playing in the background during the day helps so many people deal with stress. Those are just four areas we think are imperative to dealing with stress both at work and at home. There will be loads of other tips, so if these do not work for you then don’t worry. Visit the Stress Management website for lots of additional tools to help you deal with stress your way.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an impact on the way businesses operate over the last 12 months. Since March 2020, the vast majority have had to adapt to a new way of working from home whilst still carrying their jobs out as best as they can. Many businesses would have previously said that it is impossible for employees to work effectively from home, and while that will have remained the case for some, a lot will have been surprised at how well they have been able to adapt and continue to add value to their business. It is fair to say that we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel following the announcement of the government roadmap. This will see many businesses returning to the office in the coming months. So, which elements of remote working are here for good, even if we are not remote working? As we move back towards traditional office working what aspects of remote working will you be taking with you? Efficient communication Despite the concerns of many employers and employees alike, who expected communication with colleagues to become more difficult during lockdown, a large proportion of homeworkers have reported communication actually improving in the pandemic. In a study by productivity software company Time is Ltd., it was revealed that the average length of meetings for remote workers decreased by 10 minutes. It certainly appears that the use of video meeting software has made it both easier and more acceptable to leave meetings at the appropriate time, without them running over unnecessarily. Not only that, but once we return to the office there should be no reason to turn our backs on the convenience afforded to us by video meetings. While it is difficult to substitute the level of interpersonal connection that can be built by conducting meetings in person, there will still be a place for video meetings in the office. Maintaining this will eliminate travel time but still produce effective results, all the while allowing us to focus on other important tasks that would previously have been left unfinished. Creativity and innovation The coronavirus pandemic has led to previously tech-shy companies and employees having to adopt new technology and processes quickly. This will not have been easy for many companies, however having been put in such an uncertain scenario with no option but to change the way they do business, they will now know they are capable of taking risks and trying new things when the situation demands it. Once we return to the office, many of us will do so knowing that creating and implementing new ways of working that can drive your business forward is a realistic possibility, and a risk worth taking. Trust Working from home has resulted in a requirement for many employees to take on more self-directed work and responsibility, without being able to rely on constant contact with managers. In addition, by nature, remote working has meant that managers and leaders have less visibility of what employees are doing throughout the day, with the knowledge that there may be more distractions — such as childcare and family members — at home. This has meant managers have had to trust that their employees are being productive and getting the work done. An increase in trust and reduction in unnecessary micro-management once we return to the office can be a good thing, and can actually help to speed up the development of employees. Empathy Everybody appreciates that their colleagues and business contacts are going through a difficult period and, as a result, their mental health could be affected. With not being able to physically see people and check in on them, we have needed to treat them with care and empathy perhaps more than ever before. It is very likely that, once lockdown is over, colleagues will continue to deal with struggles and issues in their lives — whether coronavirus related or not — and we should conduct business with this expectation. Just because people are no longer isolated and threatened by serious illness, it does not mean we should treat them with anything other than the utmost care, empathy, understanding and patience. Flexibility Arguably the best thing about remote working is the flexibility it gives to employees. Removing the daily commute frees up significantly more time in the day for errands, exercise, hobbies, family time or simply more time to relax away from work. In turn, this has meant that staff feel less stressed and more in control of their lives. This will undoubtedly be the biggest thing that workers will miss about being back in the office, but there is no reason why companies should not consider retaining or introducing more flexible working policies for their staff. Many business leaders will now be under pressure to introduce more policies that allow for a healthier work/life balance, including: Long-term remote working policies Flexi-time — flexible start/finish times Compressed hours — working full-time hours but over fewer days Staggered shifts Job sharing Relaxed dress codes These are just some of the positive elements that remote working in lockdown has brought to businesses which could (and should) be protected once we start to return to the office. What do you think the best thing is about remote working that should be kept? If you would like some advice about returning to the office get in touch with our team today, we would be more than happy to offer some tailored advice.
Undoubtedly, the Coronavirus pandemic caused a nationwide panic throughout 2020. From a business perspective, many were put in a difficult situation with their employees and their positions within their firms. Some businesses were lucky enough to be able to save their staff by transferring the skills into other business roles. However, at the other end of the scale, just as many businesses were sadly forced to make redundancies and decrease their headcount. Thankfully, we are now starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and slowly many businesses are able to return to some form of “normality”, whether that be remotely or going back into the office(ensuring government guidelines are followed of course). This being said, the virus is still very much at large and there is still a lot to do before things can go completely ‘back to normal’. In the recruitment industry, we are now starting to see an increase in job demand, which is looking great for the economy. This confidence returning to the UK jobs market will put a lot of people back at ease and will result in an influx of job searches and applications over the next 6+ months. If you are in this situation, and are looking forward to your next opportunity on the other side of the pandemic, it is important that you are ready for this to happen and do all you can now to prepare. In this blog, we have provided some top tips on how you can stand out as a candidate once the pandemic has passed and further develop your career within your chosen sector. Be clear about exactly what it is that you want Have you thought about what type of role you want to be placed into or where you next career step will take you? Is there a specific sector that interests you and have you done your research to make sure that it is the right choice for you? It is important that you use this time to explore your options and review job boards including Indeed, Total Jobs and CV Library to see what career opportunities are available in your preferred location. You should also research the current market and look where there is a need for extra staff as you might get lucky and secure a role straight away if a need arises. You might also want to research different types of roles and figure out what transferable skills you have that may open new opportunities for you. Doing this will give you a good understanding of the market, and ensure you have a head start when hiring managers are on the lookout for their next candidate. Research your target companies Think about the role that you would like to be placed in and do your research on companies within that sector to draw up a list of preferred workplaces ahead of applying. When doing this it is important to ask yourself some specific questions. Are they reputable? Do they have any reviews? Can you see yourself working there and making a difference to both the business and your own development? It is important to take your time to create a list of companies that you would like to work for and review company websites to find out more information on the types of roles they usually have available and the culture within the business to ensure that you would be the right fit. Within your chosen industry, are there specific companies that are well known that you could contact for further information on their current vacancies? Make sure that you cover everything that you can when researching your next role. Make sure that you are organised Being organised is an important factor when applying for roles, so get everything you can ready now. You can use this time to make sure that your CV is up-to-date, practice common interview questions and work on your personal brand to name just a few. Having your facts lined up ready to explain to the panel who are interviewing you and having a list of contactable referees are also key things to remember when applying for roles. It is also important to develop a system to organise your job searching. Creating a detailed spreadsheet may help you to track jobs that you have applied for, where interviews have been given and whether you have or have not received a response. We have some top candidate resources that can help you getting all of this up-to-date and ensuring that you are in the best possible position. Utilise your professional network It is important to remember that job hunting is often about who you know, not simply what you know, so reach out to your network as someone else may know about an opportunity that is perfect for you. It is therefore crucial to use your network to your advantage and help you advance your career. Think about reaching out to previous colleagues, speaking to professionals in groups or attending virtual networking sessions that will help you build those relationships. As it currently stands, everybody is in the same boat, so it is important that we all come together to help out where we can. Reach out to your connections where possible and ask for help, you never know what might come up! You should also request information from people who you see posting information on job roles or current situations within your market. Speak to your current employer and seek internal advice so that once all of this is over, you can improve your skillset and advance your career to the next level. Review your social media platforms Over 60% of hiring employers review their candidates’ social media platforms and 92% of recruiters use social media to find candidates. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure that you stick to being professional and avoid uploading content that isn’t relevant and may be deemed as unprofessional. Think about the experience that you have gained in previous employment and make sure that your profile is built to the best possible standard – employers will be looking at all of your traits and transferrable skills, not just those in your current role. It is also really important to make sure that your social channels are up-to-date, so make sure you are regularly checking and amending where possible. Here are some additional tips to make sure your profile is up to date: Make sure that your profile photo is up-to-date and is a true representation of you; no filters, strictly professional Utilise content from your CV to boost your personal summary Obtain recommendations from previous colleagues / employers Update your LinkedIn status a few times a week, share articles, projects that you are currently working / have worked on, events that you have attended / are attending etc Thinking ahead to the end of the pandemic and remembering all the above will increase your chances of standing out from the crowd. You won’t be the only one looking for their next role once this is over, so it is important to take these steps to make yourself stand out from other candidates that are applying for the same or similar roles. If you would like further advice on preparing for an interview or applying for a role, you can visit our Candidate Resources page via our website or alternatively you can speak to one of our expert recruitment consultants.